Adding a new dog to your family is an exciting event! There’s nothing better than the lifelong bond you're about to form with your new furry companion.
As the days get closer to the big day, it’s important to prepare. But remember--adding a dog to your household is a big decision.
If you’re here, I know that you’re already taking steps to get things set before getting your new dog. This new dog checklist is a no-frills rundown of what you need to get, do, and plan before Fido comes to join the fam.
We’ve broken this new dog checklist down into five essential categories:
- Essential gear
- Preparing your home
- Transition and training
- Research and commitment
This dog adoption checklist is targeted for families adopting or rescuing adult dogs. If your going the puppy route, head on over to our Puppy Starter Kit. There’s definitely a fair amount of overlap, but there are a few key differences.
With this list, you and your home will be totally ready for the newest member of your pack. Let’s go!
1. Essential gear
Having the right gear ready is essential before you bring your new dog home. Getting the things you need ahead of time allows you to prepare the environment and support a smoother transition for Fido.
Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. For this reason, you don’t want to be switching up a bunch of things during their first few weeks at home as you gather what you need. Get the things ahead of time and have them ready to go.
Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need:
- Crate: I can’t recommend crate training enough when you bring a new dog into your home, no matter how young or old. Starting with a crate from day one creates a positive, safe spot for your dog and predictability for your dog at night and when you are out. Crates also keep you, your home, and your dog safe while you learn about each other and your dog adjust to their new home.
- Feeding and water bowls: Stainless steel bowls with rubber grips on the bottom are a tried and true favorite with my pack
- Collar: Really any collar will do! I like leather ones with a name plate on them so that we don’t have to hear the jingly tags, or cotton ones with name and phone number embroidered in. But you pick what you like!
- Tags: Tags are a must for safety—especially with a new dog who might be prone to running or escaping
- Leash(es): I find it beneficial to get a standard clip leash, and a training lead. Training leads are great for training sessions and teaching your dog to walk on a leash. Standard leashes in the long run will get more use
- Harness: Lots of owners like the kind that have a clip in the front. It discourages leash pulling and create a better walking experience all around
- Dog bed: This isn’t essential, but is definitely nice to have. This is the one item you could wait and see about. If your new dog has chewing habits that need to be broken, it may be beneficial to wait to introduce a bed—this way it doesn’t get destroyed!
- Dog food: Picking the right dog food will depend on your new dog’s size and breed (or mix!), this is why learning about your new dog ahead of time is so important
- Grooming supplies: be sure to choose a brush that’s right for your new dog’s coat type
- Dog-proofing supplies: think about areas you won’t want your dog to be and get any gates that might be necessary
- A few different toys/chews: have a couple of options ready to keep your new dog stimulated and figure out what they are into. I recommend getting a rope, some tough rubber chew toys, and a natural chew like an antler or a high-quality bone
Want all of this info in this article AND SO MUCH MORE in one place? The Monster K9 Guide to Adult Dogs is the perfect reference on everything from choosing the right food to first aid, grooming basics to exercise. And it includes a step-by-step guide to training. Go check it out!
2. Preparing your home
Once you’ve gathered up the gear and supplies, you’ll want to get everything set up. Think about where your dog’s crate should go, feeding supplies and things for walks.
Having things in their expected place will make the transition easier on your new dog when they join your family. They’ll get a sense of expected behavior and routine if things are ready to go from day one.
3. Transition and training
On that note, you’ll want to have a solid transition and training plan in place before bringing your dog home too. I’ve said a few times already how important consistency and predictability will be to a smooth transition.
In the first few weeks with your dog, try to stick to a strict schedule. This will help your dog feel more comfortable and create a trusted bond with you. This means going to bed at the same time, waking up at the same time, regular exercise/daily outings and predictable meal times.
Because we don’t usually know much about our adopted dog’s past, we don’t know how inconsistent or unreliable their previous home was. The transition will be smoother on you and your new dog if they have a sense that everything they need will be coming at predictable times each day.
What’s more, make sure you have a good understanding of dog training before your dog comes home, too. You want to keep things consistent and positive from day one. To get you started, see our articles about troubleshooting common behavior issues, and tips for training older dogs. Beyond that, seek our training classes at your local pet store.
4. Research and commitment
Last on your new dog checklist is to prepare yourself with the proper research and a strong sense of commitment. Too often people adopt dogs with good intentions but end up re-surrendering the dog because they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.
We adopted our husky when she was 9 months old and she already had 3 homes before us! Huskies are beautiful but they are NOT for novice dog owners.
My point here is that it’s essential to learn as much about the breed you plan to adopt as possible so that you can make sure you are prepared to meet their needs. If you are adopting a mixed breed, you can still learn a lot based on their size and the likely mixes in their lineage.
As for commitment? When you bring a new dog into your life, you need to be ready to meet their needs for their entire life. Your dog is now a priority in your life, even as demands change for you. Make sure mentally and physically you are ready to give them the love, attention, exercise, and health care they will need now and as they age.
The most important part of your new dog checklist
And most importantly--get ready for a lifetime of love and a wild ride. Your new dog is so lucky to have you!
Let us be a part of your journey! There are tons of great articles and resources in the Monster K9 blog. Welcome to the dog life